Turning Away from Politics
Do we need to bear witness, or turn away?
My friends and I have been talking about how we haven't been very involved in politics lately. We acknowledged that we share a despondency about the grim future of this country, and our helplessness in response. A while ago, it started to seem prudent to withdraw and envelop ourselves in our own lives.
Nobody wants to keep up with the news, get into arguments with family or risk detention at protests. We're all a bit tired of doing that. While we plan to become more involved with politics in the future, it feels like right now is not the time: It does not seem to be doing us any good, and we have careers and relationships to build.
If we're tasked with building a life, the weight of politics seems like it's better dropped, or kept aside temporarily.
In that spirit, I blocked all sources of 'bad news'. It's been a while since I went to a protest. I even left my family's WhatsApp group. Whenever politics somehow makes it's way to my screen, I scramble to tap out of it so I don't fall into a depressive spiral.
Moments arrive, however, when we must open ourselves up to the grief of our political reality. We must, especially, witness the suffering of those of us we are indebted to, who were stripped of the choice we have to keep politics aside and build a life.
Activist Umar Khalid, who has been in jail for 2 years under the draconian UAPA, was denied bail again this week. As news of the court order arrived, this letter Khalid wrote last month was on my mind, so I thought I'd share it with you today:
For two years now, I have been hearing this announcement every night- “naam note karein, in bandi bhaiyon ki rehaai hai” (note the names, these inmates are being released). And I wait and hope for the day when I would hear my name. I often wonder, how long is this dark tunnel? Is there any light in sight yet? Am I near the end, or am I only midway through? Or has the ordeal just begun?